Philadelphia, PA — From multimedia dance about living in a West Philadelphia neighborhood to storytelling by and about Deaf people, women artists are creating change in the five-county Philadelphia area.
The Leeway Foundation awarded 11 grants to celebrate the power and vision of women artists in the first of four cycles of the 2005 Art and Change Grant program. During this cycle, over $24,000 was awarded to Philadelphia-area women artists creating change. The grantees were selected from a pool of more than 60 applicants by a local review panel of women with extensive art and change experience. The review panel members are: Vashti Dubois, Nijmie Dzurinko, Joan Huckstep and Rana Sindhikara.
The Art and Change Grant provides immediate, short-term grants of up to $2,500 to women and transgender women artists residing in the five-county Philadelphia region who need financial assistance to take advantage of an opportunity for art and change. From dancers to visual artists to photographers, this grant supports women artists, both emerging and established, working for change in any artistic discipline.
Jaye Allison of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Dance
• Change Partner: Movement Theatre International
Jaye will present "Wonderland," a reflection of urban culture through dance. It will have a videoscape backdrop depicting the everyday lives of community members. This piece aims to provide hope, opportunity, and resources to create change in her West Philadelphia neighborhood.
Taína Asili of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Poetry, Writing, Drawing, Storytelling
• Change Partner: Caney 5th World Learning Center
Taína will visit with her mentor, Naniki Reyes Ocasio in Puerto Rico, who will offer resources and assistance to help in completing her book, Esclavos to Sun Bearers: Poetry, Recipes, Artwork and Prayers for the Health and Healing of Puertorriqueños (working title). This opportunity will focus on learning ancestral wisdom about food, herbs, nature, and the arts as mediums for healing to resist colonized ideas of culture and identity that still exist.
Misia Denea Cole of Philadelphia
• granted $1,695 | Dance, Multimedia, Poetry, Song
• Change Partner: Huey Family Center
Misia will present "Emancipation Navigation" a choreo-poem sharing the story of a Black woman's sojourn into self-love, by exploring beauty standards, the history of slavery, the connection to Africa and its impact on Black women. This piece is a collaboration with three poets and will be shared with young Black women at Huey, ages 10-14, to create dialogue and encourage self-acceptance.
Colette Copeland of Media
• granted $2,500 | Photography, Sound, Installation
• Change Partner: carbon14 gallery
Colette will have a solo exhibit of her photo installation, "Abortion Stories" at carbon14, marking two years of photographing and interviewing women about their experiences with abortion. She is creating a catalog, along with a DVD that will provide voice-overs to accompany the exhibit. This project aims to encourage women to break the silence and share stories that are often kept hidden.
Carol Finkle of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Storytelling, Documentary Media
• Change Partner: Philadelphia Folklore Project
Carol will be featured at PFP's storytelling salon series to share her experiences as a hearing parent of Deaf children. She will also start the creation of a documentary of "visual stories" told by, of and about Deaf people using American Sign Language. Her storytelling and documentary will educate people and erode stereotypes, as well as share stories of people who are often ignored.
Vanessa Julye of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Writing
• Change Partner: Friends General Conference
Vanessa will research and co-write, Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship about the experiences of African Americans within the Quaker community. She will research the history of African Americans in the Quaker community from the time of slavery to the Civil Rights Movement to the present, and share her own experience and that of other African American Quakers. This book will serve as an opportunity to discuss and facilitate workshops on racism.
Michelle Ortiz of Philadelphia
• granted $2,124 | Visual Arts, Theater
• Change Partner: Las Gallas
Michelle will conduct a series of arts workshops for members of the Las Gallas collective to create visual works that will inspire the collective's performance piece, "Kidnapping Frida and Che" about the portrayal of Frida Kahlo and Ernesto "Che" Guevara in popular culture. The pieces will be shared in an exhibit encouraging a larger community to explore issues of appropriation of identity, immigration and growing up in the US.
Serena Reed of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Multimedia Filmmaking
• Change Partner: Oasis Holistic Healing Village
Serena will document her experiences training as a holistic health and massage therapy practitioner to create a short film on the role of holistic health for working class and low-income African Americans in Philadelphia.
Na Tanyá Daviná Stewart of Philadelphia
• granted $750 | Theatre, Performance Poetry
• Change Partner: The ArtsLiteracy Project
Na Tanyá Daviná will participate in the ArtsLiteracy Project spring weekend workshop at Brown University to focus on learning ways to explore non-traditional approaches to art and literacy education. Working in Philadelphia with economically marginalized communities she aims to counter the racist, capitalist and sexist perspectives of society. This workshop will give her skills as a teaching artist to present the written word in a more appealing and artistic manner.
Anyta Thomas of Philadelphia
• granted $2,500 | Screen-mesh Sculpture
• Change Partner: Journey Home
Anyta will create a solo show, "Spiritual Expressions" using aluminum screen wire, that aims to alter how we think about ourselves. She creates sculptures that share her solutions to dealing with life's constant struggles and the use of art for self-exploration and self-expression.
Judith Trustone of Swarthmore
• granted $2,500 | Screenwriting
• Change Partner: Gregory K. Heller
Judith will use her experience as a writer and photographer to collaborate with Gregory K. Heller on the creation of a screenplay based on her book Celling America's Soul: Torture and Transformation in our Prisons. The screenplay will share alternatives to the criminal justice system, share personal stories of prisoners, issues with treatment and civil rights, as well as the humanity of those in prison and the possibilities for transformation through art. This screenplay attempts to stimulate a national conversation about changing the criminal justice system.
The Review Panel
Vashti Dubois has been an arts activist for over twenty years. She is a writer, director, performance artist and subversive storyteller. She co-founded the off Broadway theater company Mumbo Jumbo in the late eighties. While Vashti continues to produce, direct and perform from Boston to New York and now Philadelphia, she is particularly interested in how all art has the ability to educate, transform, and connect disparate communities. Most recently, Vashti was the director for the Girls Center, an extended day treatment program in North Philadelphia, where she established the arts as a central component of the programming. Students were encouraged to use the arts as a platform for expressing their often unpopular insights and concerns on a range of issues from the juvenile justice system to the war.
Nijmie Dzurinko is an organizer, poet, popular educator, and movement strategist who has lived and worked in Philadelphia for 12 years. Domestically, her work has been focused on building power among youth members of the Philadelphia Student Union who are seeking to make changes in their schools. She is also a founding member of the International Women's Peace Service, a human rights organization that witnesses and intervenes in human rights violations in the Occupied West Bank. Currently she is a Masters candidate in Urban Studies at Temple University. Nijmie has been writing poetry since she was 12 and uses her art to unleash our capacities for change.
Joan Huckstep, a native of Detroit, Michigan. Philadelphia has been her second home since childhood until she relocated after graduating from college. Huckstep has worked professionally as an independent choreographer, dancer, actor, and designer. She has received grants and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (1985-89) and was formerly on their Resident Artist Roster. Huckstep has had professional experience in theatre appearing in numerous productions in Philadelphia and Detroit. She has also been an educator with teaching experience in language arts and social studies from early childhood to undergraduate levels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Antioch College and a Doctorate of Education in Dance History with a concentration in public history (archival studies and oral history) from Temple University where she was a Future Faculty Fellow. Her research interests concern sociopolitical embodiment in the dance traditions of African and the African Diaspora.
Rana Sindhikara is a photographer and community-based teaching artist. She has used her artistic vision to explore her identity as a woman of mixed heritage. She received the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's "Artists and Communities" grant and the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership "School District of Philadelphia" pilot grant for her work with COSACOSA's "Memory Mine" project, in collaboration with Homer Jackson and Janet Goldner. She has worked with numerous schools, community centers, and non-profit organizations, including ARTWorks in Different Places, Ford-Macarobin Community Center, the Kenderton School, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Temple University. Her work has been displayed in gallery spaces throughout Philadelphia, as part of the Fringe Festival, and published in local newspapers. She is currently an Artists in Communities Training Fellow and Coordinator of Educational Programming at the Asian Arts Initiative.
The Leeway Foundation Applications and guidelines for the Art and Change Grant are available online (leeway.org) or by calling Leeway (215.545-4078). The remaining 2005 deadlines are: April 11, June 20, and October 31.
In addition to the Art and Change Grant, Leeway offers the Transformation Award, a $15,000 award given annually to women artists living in the five-county Philadelphia area who have been creating art and change work for at least five years and have financial need. Please call Leeway or visit our website for more information. The Stage 1 deadline for the award is April 6, 2005.
The Leeway Foundation's mission is to support individual women artists, arts programs and arts organizations, focusing on the Greater Philadelphia region, in order to help them achieve individual and community transformation.